"Tell your foreign friends to get away from here. That it's not safe for them. That within the next 10 minutes I can't gurantee their safety" A plainclothed state-security agent to me " They say they are not going anywhere. That they are not scared. They have been to Aghanistan and Iraq. You think that you can scare them after that?" My reply to him
"Loving this country in this day and age is a crime. They have made loving this country a crime. Curse them" A random guy on the street
"The MB are defintely not showing up!" "Well, there is Mohamed Abdul Kuddous over there" "Yeah, but he doesn't count. He will protest anything!" Josh from the arabist and me
Rallies 'evidence of democracy' 2006-05-23 09:12:47 Cairo - President Hosni Mubarak lashed out at coverage of Cairo street protests in which more than 600 Egyptians were beaten and arrested, calling the rallies "evidence of democracy" and coverage of them "libel and blasphemy". Mubarak said: "Continuation (of the protests) is evidence of democracy", adding that he was surprised by some media coverage. For the past three weeks, international media had shown footage of young activists being beaten in downtown Cairo in broad daylight by plainclothes police.Someone poison his molokhiya already.
I just got this email from Hossam el-Hamalawy, who got pepper-sprayed on his face earlier today:
Hi, State Security police arrested today at least two Youth for Change Activists, who've been recently released from Tora. Mohamed Sharkawy was leaving the Press Syndicate after attending a demo in support of the judges, in a taxi, when he was stopped by plain clothes security, who grabbed him out of the car. He was beaten and taken away to an unknown location. Another activist, Kareem al-Sha'er, was leaving the syndicate around 4:30pm, in the private car of his colleague Dina Samak--a six-month pregnant journalist with the BBC whose husband Ibarhim el-Sahary is currently incarcerated in Tora for taking part in pro-judges demos--when they were stopped by at least 25 plain clothes security agents, who kept on hitting the car windows till they were smashed, and dragged Karim el-Sha'er out of it. He was beaten and taken to an unknown location. Dina had a trauma shock the bordered on a nervous breakdown. She was taken by her friends to the Judges' Club. Earlier in the day, (though I don't have much details), Kefaya coordinator in Qenna, Ashraf Abdel Hafiz, was picked up by State Security. The police had laid siege on the Press Syndicate, with riot troops, plain clothes security officers, and thugs. We were barred from leaving the syndicate to go and join the judges' stand in front of the High Court, around 1:30pm. When I tried to leave, a plain clothes security officer, dressed in a yellow shirt, pepper-sprayed my face. I couldn't see well for at least 20 mins, during which my face and neck were on FIRE! I wasn't allowed to leave the premise for another hour. I'm attaching a pic of the security agent who assaulted me. He's wearing a yellow shirt, standing behind the helmeted soldiers talking to a CSF colonel in a black hat.
Journalists face trial for denouncing Egypt vote-rigging Wed May 24, 2:29 PM ET Three Egyptian journalists and a lawyer were charged by a criminal court for denouncing state-sponsored fraud in last year's parliamentary elections, judicial sources told AFP. Wael al-Ibrashi and Hoda Abu Bakr, both journalists with the independent Sawt al-Umma weekly, were charged with slandering a local electoral commission chief and publishing the names of judges allegedly involved in fraud. Similar charges were brought against Abdel Hakim Abdel Hamid, the chief editor of Afaq Arabiya (Arab Horizons) -- considered the mouthpiece of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood -- as well as a lawyer close to the Islamist movement, Gamal Tag el-Din. The publications had claimed they had obtained the list of judges accused of being involved in rigging electoral results from the lawyers' syndicate, where the Muslim Brotherhood is well represented. Opposition movements and election observers had cried foul following the November-December parliamentary polls that saw President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party retain a firm grip on power.I think that in a way, Sawt Al Umma has been the most daring of the quite daring weeklies. Sure it's lowbrow, but they've had fantastic front pages with hilarious photo-montages. There was a great one a few weeks ago with Mubarak looking at the different phases of the eclipse -- each phase had a word on it, like "corruption," inheritance of power," etc...
So after Alaa’s detention on May 7, the reaction from the blogosphere and other activists around the globe was swift. They created a multi-faceted campaign to free him and bring attention to his plight in a way that fit with his tech-savvy personality. The Global Voices blog set up a special wiki , which lists all the ways people are promoting his release online and offline. Anyone can edit the wiki to add their own activity or ideas. So far, there’s been a Flash animation , an online petition (signed by 1,100+ people so far), badges to post on websites and blogs, and a special Wikipedia entry . People have even tried a Google bomb strategy, where they link the Free Alaa blog with the word “Egypt” so that Google searches for Egypt will pull up the blog. It hasn’t worked well so far, but the idea is innovative. As DemoBlogger points out on the Free Alaa blog: “The total cost of launching a global human rights campaign using digital tools: $0. The total time needed to launch a global human rights campaign using digital tools: 24 hours.”The article has some great Alaa quotes in it. On the morning he was arrested, I received a long email from Alaa after I'd asked him a technical question a few days beforehand. It was, as usual with Alaa, passionately geeky and impatient with ignorance about technology. It was also, I think, the first PGP-encrypted email I've ever received. At the bottom was his signature, which I'll have to ask him about when he gets out: "Alaa: Husband of the Grand Waragi Master."
While economic reforms are proceeding fairly smoothly, the political convoy seems to have hit a roadblock -- a point underlined by recent police beatings in central Cairo of demonstrators demanding independence for the judiciary. Mubarak, who will mark a quarter century in power in October, will eventually die or become too old to rule. But just who will succeed him is far from clear. "It's the million dollar question, " says Orascom Telecom's Sawiris. The regime's jealous guarding of power has prevented strong non-religious parties from emerging, playing to the advantage of the Islamists. Gamal Mubarak, the president's pro-business son, hasn't caught fire as a candidate. On a plane returning from Sharm el Sheikh to Cairo, a prominent Indian businessman worried that Amr Moussa -- the charismatic and populist Arab League secretary general and former Egyptian foreign minister who's a caustic critic of the U.S. -- could seize the opportunity. But in the short term, a successor closer to the security establishment seems more likely.
FOR AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY, FOR EGYPT, Stand On the Platform Greek Campus, AUC Thursday 25th May, 2006 @ 2:00 PM SHARP (Wear Black) Teach-in Blue Room @ 1:00 PMI would urge AUC students to join the protests on the street.
Cairo - London - Paris - Athens - the Hague - Seol - Washington - New York - Chicago - Toronto - Montreal - Beirut and now.... San Francisco Hands Off our Judges!! Release our Detainees!! Democracy & Justice now!!! The demo will be in front of the Egyptian Consulate For more information please contact Sherry Wolf at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It goes without saying that this is a protracted battle that has been ongoing for decades and will continue for several more. But the battle is not forwarded by treating judges as infallible Olympian beings who will rid the country of all that ails it. It does no good to sensationalise their plight and trip over ourselves coining terms such as “rebel judges” and a “judicial intifada” and all the other breathless assertions. As a citizen, I instinctively love the now-famous slogan “Judges, judges, deliver us from the tyrants!” that is a staple at every solidarity demonstration. But as a professional and an analyst, I cannot succumb to the fantasy that judges are the deus ex machina that will realise democracy, restore justice, and make life wonderful. Judges are already grappling with tremendous stresses. It’s highly unfair to saddle them with the hopes of a nation.I don't see the problem with the term "rebel judges." The judges are not unanimous in protesting their situation, just as they were not unanimous in condemning the fraud in the elections. There are clearly judges who are more willing to contest the authorities than others. The "rebels" might make the majority of the Judges' Club if we are to go with the election results that brought Zakariya Abdel Aziz to power, or a lot less than that if we go with the current estimates (guesses?) that between 1,500 and 2,500 are supporting the Club's campaign for Bastawissi and Mekki and the wider one for new judicial independence legislation. Are there not, in fact, pro-regime judges and "rebel" ones, in the sense that they are rebelling against a system? They may have been disgruntled for a long time and raised this issue before, but it seems that the current "rebellion" takes their complaints to a whole new level. The same judges that worked within the system for a long time are now opportunistically (I don't mean that in a bad way) taking advantage of changed political conditions to make their demands. So "rebel" is not that inappropriate. I didn't attend the meeting of the Club that immediately followed the verdict on B&M, but a friend who did told me that they seemed intent of continuing their demands from what they said. (He also spoke of an Islamist tinge to senior judges' speeches, but that may have been a way to thank the remarkable support Muslim Brotherhood MPs gave the Club. The MPs stayed a few minutes to congratulate the judges and then left, wisely, as there are enough accusations in the state press that the MB are behind the Judges' crisis as it is -- Al Ahram editor Osama Saraya said as much last week, also blaming the MB for sectarian violence and other ills.) But the speculation in the press and among activists that the Judges may now stand down their activism (end the sit-in, negotiate a judicial independence bill with the NDP, etc.) is perfectly legitimate. And as Baheyya herself points out, it is unreasonable to expect the Judges to assume the leadership of Kifaya or the wider anti-Mubarak, pro-democracy, whatever-you-want-to-call-it movement. They're campaigning for judicial independence, not regime change. Their "rebellion" ends when they get what they want, or possibly even a compromise. In other words, are the Judges' playing an all-or-nothing game? Will they insist on every single one of their demands? These are legitimate questions for the press and analysts to have. Not putting judges on a pedestal also means recognizing that they might be mostly fighting for their corporate interests.